The U.S. National Debt has just broken $16 trillion.
What does $1 trillion look like? The red speck at the bottom right of the photo is an average sized person, for perspective.
• Debt vs. debt as a percentage of GDP: Some economists will tell you that it’s not the size of the debt per se, but rather the size of the debt relative to the nation’s gross domestic product. This helps minimize the complicating effect of economic cycles and inflation. So how do those numbers stack up? Using OMB statistics, here’s what we came up with, using public debt figures not adjusted for the president’s time in office:
Reagan: Up 14.9 percentage points
George H.W. Bush: Up 7.1 percentage points
Clinton: Down 13.4 percentage points
George W. Bush: Up 5.6 percentage points
Obama: Up 21.9 percentage points (through December 2010 only)
So by this measurement — potentially a more important one — Obama is the undisputed debt king of the last five presidents, rather than the guy who added a piddling amount to the debt, as Pelosi’s chart suggested. Of course, all this goes to show that statistics can be used — and misused — to bolster almost any argument.
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